Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Evolution of the Zombie [Infographic] by the team at wish.co.uk
Enter my December giveaway to win a Dashboard Zombie!
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Sunday, December 1, 2013
Last month I sponsored my first giveaway - a zombie coffee mug. I'll be offering a giveaway every month. This month you can win this cool Dashboard Zombie for your car or your desk! The giveaway is open to people 18 years old or older and to US residents. (Unfortunately, it cost too much to send a prize out of the US, but I will be offering a giveaway to residents in the US AND out of the US sometime in 2014.)
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
"The Returned," otherwise known as "Les Revenants," is a TV series originating from France and created by Fabrice Gobert. It's been regarded as the newest and coolest "zombie" series. The actors and actresses speak French, but it's not like you need a translation service to understand the show. The episodes feature English subtitles. Now you can catch "The Returned" on the Sundance Channel on Thursdays at 9 p.m.
People often complain about the zombie genre. They say authors and producers need to get more original with their zombies. Well, I'm all for the original, but "The Returned" is, shall we say, too original for me.
Maybe it's because I'm a huge fan of "The Walking Dead." Maybe it's because I like my zombies ugly and hungry and ready to kill.
In "The Returned," dead people reappear, but they appear alive and normal. There's no strange eyes, no rotted skin, no awkward movements, no growling. These "zombies" attempt to reintegrate with their families and loved ones. They're not like typical zombies who just want to serve you up for dinner.
I consider myself fairly sophisticated, but perhaps I'm just not sophisticated enough to enjoy "The Returned." I have no problems with subtitles. After all, one of my favorite horror movies is the Swedish vampire movie "Let the Right One In."
But with "The Returned" I wasn’t scared; I was just bored. When it comes to zombies, I like to be on the edge of my seat, which never happened for me with "The Returned."
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Corny headline notwithstanding, the “zombie thing” has taken the film (and TV and videogame and graphic novel) industries by serious storm in the past few years.
Photo credit: macwagen
We probably have The Walking Dead to thank almost exclusively for that. After all, anything that AMC touches proverbially turns to gold. So in honor of that, we thought we’d take the time to break down different zombie classes and why they rock (or suck, depending on your perspective).
Slow but Classic
The first type of flesh-eater that comes to mind is inevitably the bumbling, decaying groan-machine that hobbles at quick-witted protagonists. Find these guys in The Walking Dead, and in the book version World War Z. This is the style of choice for most classic zombie video games and remains true for a lot of post-apocalyptic movies.
At first, they beg the question “How can these molasses-speed villains best anyone with half a brain?” The key here is numbers. Particularly in the AMC show, you’ll find main characters handling zombies just fine until they reach a “herd,” get overwhelmed and end up getting swallowed by a drove of brain feasters.
The fear factor here falls in accumulation. You might be able to react quickly enough to one or two zombies, but when 200 come your way, you can’t possible kill all of them. (and you’ll almost definitely need some hand sanitizer or a desiccant regenerative air dryer). It’s classic, but it’s a bit played out.
The next type that we’ve found to be particularly effective in recent years is the mutated, augmented beast. Examples of this fall under the I Am Legend and World War Z (film) categories. These guys aren’t your typical dead guys. They’ve been infected with certain key changes. In WWZ they leap and bound like gazelles. In I Am Legend, they’re super strong creatures that can’t go out in sunlight.
This departure from the norm is a really cool idea because, in essence, it turns the genre on its head. Most of the time, you go for the head with zombies. But these movies allude to larger, more global solutions. The outbreaks usually result from a sickness, and therefore, can be cured with a central weakness.
To avoid spoilers, we won’t give examples, but it adds an interesting dynamic. In fact, the definition broadens the genre to even include movies like The Descent (which is always worth watching for your next zombie night).
Our last (and arguably the most terrifying) zombie profile describes those fiends that fall more into the “running” category than “walking.” A perfect example is from the impeccably awesome film 28 Days Later. Not only does this flick find itself on almost every horror must-see list each year, but it has spawned some of the scariest rage zombies we’ve ever seen.
Not only do these guys have the numbers like in most zombie movies, but they’re still fully functional (as they aren’t really reanimated bodies, but rather, rage-infected humans). They barrel after you with essentially one goal in mind: to kill, mindlessly.
The movie stars Cillian Murphy, so we’re already a bit biased (check out his excellent sci-fi thriller Sunshine for a different kind of scare). But this movie is excellent and proves the scare factor of speed really well.
So, whether it’s the tried-and-true slow wit of horror classics (and “classic” is really what they are because the archetype was even parodied in both Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland), or the terrifying introduction of intelligence or speed, there’s plenty of room for exploration when making a zombie movie.
And with new media and longer-form narrative coming to the forefront, this genre is here to stay. Happy survival.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Now that Halloween is over, you may think that you’re in the clear and the haunting season has passed. The truth is, haunting is a year-round activity for real ghosts. That’s because “haunting” is really just ghosts trying to interact with the living. In reality, we are unable to see them most of the time.
Photo credit: vidalia_11
Sometimes you may see or hear things in your home that you simply cannot explain. While we may simply chalk these occurrences up to coincidence, there are a few surefire ways to tell if your house is haunted.
A History of Disturbing Events
Does your house have a history? When you moved in, were there old bloodstains on the carpet? Did a lot of abuse occur in your house, or did a child pass away? Or anyone, for that matter? If so, your house is more likely than average to be haunted. To learn more about your house’s history, you can visit your local historical society. Just be prepared to deal with the consequences of whatever you might dig up!
We’ve all had this terrifying experience: you’re alone at night in your house, and all of the sudden you hear a loud boom. You figure, maybe it’s just the house settling. But then you hear it again; could it be something else? Something paranormal?
Or maybe you’ve woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of a door slamming. It must just be a part of the dream you’d been having, right? Maybe not. Perhaps you’re hearing sounds from beyond the grave. Don’t be so quick to call these coincidences.
Items out of Place
If you’re like me, you lose things all the time. Sometimes these are simply misplaced – keys you threw down as soon as you entered, a cell phone you left on a shelf while looking up at a book – but other times you know you can’t possibly be at fault. Why would you leave your keys in the freezer? Why are your purse’s straps hanging out from under your bed? You may be forgetful, but not that forgetful. You may also notice more overt changes, like a mysterious handprint in the protective powder coating of your most recent craft project. The only possible explanation is that someone undead put it there.
Feeling Like You’re Not Alone
Do you ever get icy chills down your spine late at night? Maybe you’re sitting at your desk and feel fingers ghosting across the back of your neck, or eyes burning into the back of your skull. Maybe you’re cooking dinner and you see a shadowy blur dart across the hallway out of the corner of your eye. But you’re alone in your house – who could it possibly be? These occurrences could indicate that you are sharing lodgings with a phantom.
Clear Signs of Danger
Sometimes things become so clear that you have no choice but to act. Do you ever wake up with unexplainable scratches on your body? Or do you have bruises you can’t remember getting? While many of the above types of haunting could simply be harmless play on the part of the ghost, actual physical harm indicates more hostile intentions. If any injury comes to you and the only explanation is an otherworldly spirit, get out while you still can!
Monday, November 11, 2013
For a Scotland bus driver who remains nameless, this initial fear cost him his job. The man sped past students waiting for the school bus after experiencing a premonition that something terrible would happen if he were to stop. Knowing himself to be clairvoyant, the driver did what he thought was best and now faces unemployment and the ridicule of the nonbelieving public. What he experienced, say many, may have indeed been an episode of clairvoyance.
For people who report bigfoot sightings, the feeling of fear manifests itself as that of being watched. This fear, some suggest, is actually infrasound, sound too low in pitch for the human ear. Tigers, whales, and elephants are just a few animals who use the sound, but its effects are far reaching—disorientation, nausea, fear, panic, sadness, loss of bladder and bowel control, sleepiness, hallucinations, cold chills, changes in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, organ damage. Theoretically, a sasquatch making these low sounds could use infrasound to hunt and paralyze prey. Infrared might explain many of our feelings of fear when we’re alone in the wilderness and ready to believe.
What we’re calling ghosts might be infrasound, as written about by Vic Tandy and Dr. Tony Lawrence of Coventry University’s psychology department. Around 1996, Tandy was working in a building rumored to be haunted when he felt uneasy. He thought he saw a gray mass moving toward him. The next day, a blade began vibrating in one part of the room, though not in another. When he switched off a fan, he felt an enormous and immediate sense of relief. When measured, the infrasound in the lab showed the exact frequency at which the human eyeball resonates, explaining the earlier optical illusion.
Imagine the potential damage that could be caused should this ability be co-opted by humans hell-bent on destruction. By harnessing the potentially destructive power of sound and using realistic apparitions/costumes/visual effects, fear could be manipulated in a powerful way. Combined with a human proclivity for tricks and scary costume, it may be easier than we think to really scare a person. Humans may be able to haunt a house with a noise machine and some visually stunning makeup.
It is possible that our Scottish bus driver simply experienced a vibration that resulted in a feeling of extreme uneasiness. It is possible that bigfoots and hauntings and most things creepy are the result of sounds produced by animal or nature (storms, seasonal wind, some earthquakes, and various weather patterns), spooky sounds we don’t even really hear that get us going in such a significant way. All of that is possible, and yet—we’re still scared to be alone in the dark.
Lydia Mondy likes running, but only if it’s away from something scary. Once, a fourth grader told her that he’d saved her life in 1842 and she thought ‘hey, just like that Decemberists so---WAIT. That’s insanely creepy’. Now, she writes about a decade of epic Halloween costumes, the scariest of which was Reba McEntire.